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Executive Dii*ector 

As a youngster growing up in southwest Virginia, I was al- 
ways fascinated by woodchucks and they played no small 
part in sparking my lifelong passion for wildlife. As I recall, a 
groundhog — actually, its skeletal remains — figured in to one of 
my science projects along the way. While groundhogs sparked 
my interest, what has siistained me during a 37-year career in 
wildlife management has been the absolute joy of working with 
folks who share that passion and a sense of calling about their 
chosen field. 

One such group of wildlife professionals is our conserva- 
tion police officers (CPOs) who, by the very nature of their jobs, 
serve as the front line of the agency. Recent events served to re- 
mind me just what a wide-ranging and difficult set of duties 
these folks have. Not only do they enforce our fishing, himting, 
and boating laws, they also enforce other laws related to public 
safety. These men and women have the daunting responsibility 
of investigating boating and hunting accidents and the solemn 
task of informing families regarding the loss of loved ones. 

Because our officers spend so much time in the woods, 
they are trained in tracking skills (see related story, page 14). 
They serve on teams that respond to wildlife crimes, search for 
missing persons, and assist other agencies in searches for fugi- 
tives. By their training and quick, decisive actions, our officers 
have saved folks from drowning or choking to death and, not 
surprisingly, they have been the very ones to find lost youngsters 
in the woods. They have deployed for hurricane duty and 
worked floods and other natural disasters in service to their fel- 
low man — many times outside of our state borders. 

The range of CPO activities is nothing short of remark- 
able. And while trained to deal with and work imder a wide 
range of difficult field conditions, our CPOs are very much at 
home when teaching others about hunting and boating safety. 
They train hunter education instructors and they answer public 
inquiries about game and fish laws. CPOs help organize and 
conduct special events for youth, disabled sportsmen, and vet- 
erans. Our CPOs act as liaisons to other state, federal, and local 
law enforcement agencies where, to be sure, a special bond is 
formed among all who serve together. Like the risks associated 
with other police work, the job of a wildlife officer can be very 
dangerous. On rare occasions, an officer may have to take a life 
in self defense or sacrifice their own life in the line of duty. 

So the next time you see one of these brave men or women, 
take time to thank them for all they do to protect the wildlife re- 
sources of our great commonwealth. They may at times have to 
be tougher than groundhog hide, but they have hearts of gold! 


To manage Virginia's wildlife and inland fish to maintain optimum populations of all species to serve the needs of the Commonwealth; To 
provide opportunity for all to enjoy wildlife, inland fish, boating and related outdoor recreation and to work diligently to safeguard the rights 
of the people to hunt, fish and harvest game as provided for in the Constitution of Virginia; To promote safety for persons and property in 
connection with boating, hunting and fishing; To provide educational outreach programs and materials that foster an awareness of and appre- 
ciation for Vii^inias fish and wildlife resources, their habitats, and hunting, fishing, and boating opportunities. 

Dedicated to the Conservation of Virginias Wildlife and Natural Resources 

VOUlMr 72 


Bob McDonnell, Governor 


Subsidized this publication 

Douglas W. Domenech 



Bob Duncan 

Executive Director 

Ward Burton, Halifax 
Lisa Caruso, Church Road 
Brent Clarke, Fairfax 
Curtis D. Colgate, Virginia Beach 
James W. Hazel, Oakton 
Randy J. Kozuch, Alexandria 
John W. Montgomery, Jr., Sandston 
Mary Louisa Pollard, Irvington 
F. Scott Reed, Jr., Manakin-Sabot 
Leon Turner, Fincastle 
Charles S. Yates, Cleveland 


Sally Mills, Editor 

Lee Walker, Ron Messina, Julia Dixon, 

Contributing Editors 
Emily Pels, Art Director 
Carol Kushlak, Production Manager 
David Kocka, Staff Contributor 

Color separations and printing by 
Progress Printing, Lynchburg, VA. 

Virginia Wildlife (ISSN 0042 6792) is published month! 
by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheric 
Send all subscription orders and address changes to Virgin! 
Wildlife, P. O. Box 7477, Red Oak. Iowa 51591-0477. Ad 
dress all other communications concerning this publicatio 
to Virginia Wildlife. P. O. Box 1 1 104, 4'oiO West Broa^ 
Street, Richmond, Virginia 23230-1 104. .Sub.scription rati 
are $12.95 for one year, $23.95 for two years; $4.00 pi 
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dress changes to Virginia Wildlife, PO. Box 7477, Red Oal 
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mend, Virginia and additional entry offices. 

Copyright 201 1 by the Virginia Department of Clamc an 
Inland Fisheries. All fights reserved. 

The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries .shall affoi 
to all persons an equal access to Department programs an 
facilities without regard to race, color, religion, national or 
gin, disability, sex, or age. If you believe that you have bet 
discriminated against in any program, activity or facilit write to: Virginia Department of Cianie and Inlar 
Fisheries, ATTN: Compliance Officer. (4010 West Bro. 
Street.) R O. Box 1 1 104, Richmond, Virginia 23230-1 10 

"This publication is intended for general informational pui 
poses only and every effiart has been made to ensure its a! 
curacy. The information contained herein does not serve 
a legal representation offish and wildlife laws or regulatioi 
llie Virginia Department of (jame and Inland Fisheries do 
not assume responsibilit)' for any change in dates, regiil 
tions, or information that may occur after publication.' 

by Curtis J. Badger 

H(m Hmting md Fishmg Ewolwed in Vkpmi 


On December 18, 1905 
Alexander Hunter was sleep- 
ing soundly in the lighthouse 
keeper's cottage in the village of Broadwater 
on Hog Island in Northampton County. 
Around midnight, someone began pounding 
on the door. It was Charles Sterling, the keep- 
er of the light, and he wanted Hunter to come 
at once to the nearby lighthouse. An incredi- 
ble event was taking place. 

A gale had been brewing all day, so 
Hunter put on his oilskins and left the cottage 
with Sterling, both men leaning hard into the 
wind and sleet. They climbed the circular 
stairway to the keeper's room just beneath the 
light, and then went out onto a narrow iron 
balcony, icy with sleet and rain, thousands of 
brant, buHeted by the storm, had been at- 
tracted to the light. Many crashed into the 
glass, stunned, some falling lifeless to the 
groimd below. 

"Ihe brant, the shyest, wildest, most 
timid of waterfowl, were within five feet of irs, 

but, evidently blinded by the light, they 
could see nothing, " Hunter wrote. "Some 
would circle around the tower, others dart 
by; and to relate, some would re- 
main stationary in the air, their wings mov- 
ing so rapidly that they were blurred like a 
wheel in rapid motion. The lamp in the 
tower revolved every forty-five seconds, and 
for a short time every bird was in the vivid 
glare, which displayed every graceful curve 
of neck and head, and the set and balance of 
the body, and enabled one to look into their 
brilliant eyes." 

Soon, many of the 100 or so people 
who lived on this barrier island had heard of 
the event, and they gathered with their dogs 
in the lighthouse compound, collecting 
dead brant and dispatching the wounded. 
Some men wanted access to the lighthouse 
balcony so they could shoot the brant, but 
Sterling refused. Sterling himself picked up 
28 brant, Himter wrote; the villagers, many 
times that number. 

Hunter's account of the incident in his 
book Ilje Huntsman in the South views the 
villagers with disdain, and it illustrates the 
gulf that had developed between people 
whose ancestors viewed wildlife as a means 
of subsistence and those who view it as sport. 
To Hunter the event was tragic and the vil- 
lagers' actions, savage. But to the villagers it 
was serendipitous. Christmas was coming. 
There would be ineat on the table for all. 

As population grew along the coast, 
more pressure was put on what was indeed a 
finite natutiil resource. Trade was established 
linking rural communities dotting the 
Chesapeake Bay and the Eastern Shore with 
Baldmore, Philadelphia, Wilmington, and 
New York. Sailing ships and, later, 
steamships ferried local agricultural crops to 
markets, and along with the potatoes and 
cabbage went barrels of fish, oysters, clams, 
terrapins, and wild ducks. Tlie opening of 
the railroad on the Eastern Shore in 1884 
ushered in a new era of commerce and trade. 



Commerce, trade, and seaside resorts like the Cobb's Island 
Hotel (L) flourished with the opening of the railroad on the 
Eastern Shore in 1884. Above, early illustrations of life in the bay 
were often based on exaggerated claims. 

ed Journal 

The railroad also provided a great boost 
to the hunt clubs and seaside resorts on the 
barrier islands. Some, such as the famous 
Cobb's Island resort, had been in operation 
for years, but the railroad made access much 
easier. More resorts were built and more and 
more people came. Sportsmen could leave 
Philadelphia by rail in the morning, dine on 
crab cakes on Cobb's Island in the evening, 
and be in the duck blind at dawn the next 

The influx of city sportsmen in commu- 
nities where hunting had roots in subsistence 
living did not always go smoothly. Hunter 
writes that he went to Hog Island in the early 
part of the season and expected fine shooting. 
He climbed the watchtower one evening, 
scanned the inlet with a scope, and said the 
water was black with wildfowl. Early the next 
morning he prepared to set out for his blind 
when he was told the birds had gone. A few 
local residents had spent the night blasting 
them, driving the birds away. 

The term "sustainable" is widely used 
today in conservation circles, and in the mid- 
to late nineteenth century it became apparent 
that the natural food resources of the coast 
could not be sustained, given the market de- 
mand from growing East Coast cities. Mary- 
land and Virginia passed laws regulating the 
seafood industry, and the last two decades of 
the nineteenth century saw the passage of the 
first game laws. 

Alexander Hunter served in the Virginia 
legislature and proposed some of the early 
regulations. "Until 1878 there were no game 
laws in Virginia, and anyone could shoot at 
will all the week, and Sundays too, day or 
night, " he wrote. Within a few years, night 
shooting was outlawed, spring shooting was 
prohibited, and wild game was given the Sab- 
bath as a day of rest. Hunter advocated sta- 
tioning a game warden on Hog Island for six 
months of the year. 

Ajid so our great store offish and game 
had gone from becoming a matter of survival 

Willet by © J. W. Taylor 

FEBRUARY 2011 7 

Who was 
Alexander Hunter^ 

Alexander Hunter was born on June 4, 
1843 in Norfolk and served in the Confed- 
erate Army as a member of Mosby's 
Ranger and in the Black Horse Cavalry. 
Ironically, he spent his career working for 
the federal government in Washington as 
an employee of the General Land Office. 
His father, Bushrod Washington Hunter, 
owned the plantation Abingdon in North- 
ern Virginia, which is now part of Ronald 
Reagan Washington National Airport. A 
small museum depicting life at Abingdon 
is housed in the Terminal A Exhibit Hall. 

Despite working for 40 years in the 
General Land Office, Hunter was a prolific 
writer. He contributed to many of the out- 
door journals of his day, frequently using 
the nom de plume Chasseur, meaning 
"hunter" in French. He produced three 
books. The Huntsman in the South (Neale, 
1908) is a collection of hunting stories 
covering Virginia and North Carolina. 
Hunter apparently intended to publish 
subsequent volumes but died before he 
was able to do so. He also wrote two 
books about the Civil \!\Jar: Johnny Reb and 
Billy Yank, and The Women of the Debat- 
able Land. 

He died at age 71 in Silver Spring, 
Maryland, on July 2, 1914 and is buried in 
the Confederate section of Arlington 
National Cemetery. 

Rail service on the Eastern Shore opened the door for sportsmen to travel from East Coast 
cities to hunt its seemingly endless supply of waterfowl. 

for early colonists to a government-regulated 
source of sport for those with leisure time 
and money to spend. And rural people, such 
as the Broadwater residents of Hog Island, 
felt that they had been converted from God- 
fearing, law-abiding citizens to outlaws al- 
most overnight by the passage of such laws. 
Hunting and fishing heretofore had been 
governed by natural law. Duck season began 
when the ducks arrived. It ended when they 

The transition from survival to sport 
very likely had implications beyond the via- 
bility of the natural resource. During this pe- 
riod and earlier, the traditions and culture of 
the English were imported to America. As 
landowners and businessmen became pros- 
perous, they initiated in their American 
homes the manners and customs of the 
upper classes back in England. These man- 
ners also extended to the field, where in Eng- 
land the hunt was a social event, a gathering 
of lords and ladies, and certainly not a means 
of putting food on the table. 

In 77;f Huntsman in the South, Hunter 
paints himself as the aristocratic, well man- 
nered sportsman who observes a certain code 
of ethics that sets him apart from the com- 
mon people of Broadwater, who would 
stoop to picking up dead brant from the base 
of a lighthouse to take them home for the 
table. We see in his writing this dichotomy of 

the use of natural resources. On one hand is 
the spirit of going gunning, of indiscrimi- 
nately providing food without ceremony or 
manners, and on the other hand is hunting as 
sport and, with it, the rites and rituals atten- 
dant to people who have manners, who abide 
by a shared code of ethics. It is unsporting and 
unethical, for example, to shoot waterfowl at 
night, to attract them with bait, to trap them, 
or to kill large numbers with big bore 
weapons. For those whose culture equates 
waterfowl with feeding the family, however, 
this set of manners — this code — has no cur- 

Of course, the passage of hunting and 
fishing regulations was not simply a means of 
enforcing manners. The day of killing ducks 
to feed the family had long passed, and for 
many rural coastal families, waterfowl repre- 
sented one more commodity to ship to city 
markets with an invoice attached. As a result, 
many species of birds and fish were being 
over-exploited, sometimes to the point that 
populations were endangered. It was leg;il to 
sell ducks on the open market in those days, 
and barrels of them would be placed on 
steamships or in railroad airs for shipment to 
market. Spring shorebird hunting was not 
only legal, but was widely publicized and ad- 
vertized in sporting journals of the day. We 
read about the incredible migratory journey 
of whimbrels {Virginia Wildlife, August 









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of terrapin were caught in the Chesapeake 
Bay to feed the demand for terrapin stew. 
The demand lasted as long as the terrapins 
did. In 1920, the catch was down to a mere 
823 pounds and the diamondback was in 
danger of being extinguished. In 1929, laws 
were passed to protect the terrapin that still 
are on the books today. 

Perhaps the most egregious example of 
exploitation was plume hunting, where 
birds would be killed so their feathers could 
adorn the hats of fashionable men and 
women. In 1886, while walking the streets 
of Manhattan, ornithologist Frank Chap- 
man of the American Museum of Natural 
History performed a bird count in the 
busiest part of New York City. Over a two- 
day period he saw 40 species, including 
cedar waxwings, bobwhite quail, northern 
flicker, snow buntings, and Northern ori- 
oles. Sadly, the birds were not flitting about 
in trees and shrubs. They were mounted in 
women's hats. □ 

Curtis Badger, whose most recent hook is 
A Natural History of Quiet Waters (UVA Press), 
has written widely about natural history and 
wildlife art. He lives on Virginia's Eastern Shore. 

2010) and marvel at the accomplishment, 
but we realize that a century ago those same 
whimbrels would have been legal game as 
they headed to nesting grounds in the Arctic. 
In the 1700s, slaves in coastal commu- 
nities were fed so much terrapin that they 
protested. But in the late 1800s, terrapin 
stew became a fad in city restaurants, and the 
population of diamondback terrapins was 
nearly wiped out. In 1891, 89,150 pounds 

Those with money and leisure 
time enjoyed the best of 
accommodations in high 
fashion. Untold numbers of birds 
were taken simply for use of their 
feathers to adorn women's hats. 



Research on antler 


reveals clues about 

far more than genetics. 

by Jason E.Davis 

; k, -| ead low to the ground, a young 
* I buck steps slowly through the deep 
green shadows of the late summer 
forest. On the opposite hill a dry branch 
snaps with a sound like a gunshot. Startled, 
the buck looks up, catching the velvet spike of 
his left antler in an old deadfall. The jagged 
wood punches deeply into the soft tissue and 
he pulls away with a stinging, bloody gash. 

Though the damaged antler and its 
matching one will be dropped by mid-winter, 
when the buck's new antlers grow next year 
they will sport impressive evidence ot this 
careless moment. His left antler will likely 
have a large and uneven tine growing ftom 
the site where his old wound would have 
been. Even more strangely, though last year's 
right antler was uninjured, his new right 
antler will probably grow a new tine opposite 
the position where his old left antler was 
pierced. These anomalies may fade over suc- 
cessive years, but it's likely that each new set of 
antlers will always show some evidence oi his 
old injury. 

How can antlers, which are shed each 
year and grow back seemingly from scratch, 
be changed by an injury that happened years 
earlier? And why is an injury to one antler 
perfectly reflected on the opposite side of the 

Antlers are far more than simple branch- 
es of bone. They are the only mammalian ap- 
pendages able to completely regenerate, and 
they're some of the fastest developing bony 
tissues on earth — growing up to half an inch 
per day at their peak. And antlers greatly in- 
fluence a buck's love life. Bucks with large, 
symmetrical racks are more likely to father 
large numbers of offspring than bucks sport- 
ing puny or weird-looking sets. 

Each year a new set of antlers begins as 
stem cells growing inside the stubby pedicles, 
or buttons, on top of a buck's skull. As these 
stem cells grow and divide, they develop into 

a complex structure made of interwoven lay- 
ers of cartilage and bone, along with an intri- 
cate network of blood vessels and nerves. 
While it grows, the antler is covered in a layer 
of sensitive, finely furred skin, called velvet. 
When the antler matures this velvet sloughs 
off, leaving a strong but flexible bone-like 
antler beneath. 

In white-tailed deer, only males normally 
grow antlers. Bucks begin growing them after 
reaching puberty, when their testosterone lev- 
els rise to adult levels. In adult bucks, testos- 
terone increases in the spring — as the days 
grow longer — and new antlers begin to devel- 
op. A second, somewhat smaller surge of 
testosterone comes in autumn, causing the 
antlers to finish hardening and shed their vel- 
vet lining. Testosterone drops precipitously in 
late winter, causing the antlers to fall off, and 
the whole process starts again. 

Once in every few thousand cases a doe 
may grow antlers, but this only happens if she 
has a tumor or other disorder that causes 
extra-high production of testosterone. Be- 
cause these does don't produce the correct pat- 
terns of testosterone in connection with 
season and day length, they usually never shed 
their velvet. Instead, their antlers may grow all 
winter and even into the spring of the next 
year, and in some cases they may never be 

In rare cases, a doe will grow antlers. 

FEBRUARY 2011 11 

Just like the branches of a tree, every 
antler is a unique structure with a distinct pat- 
tern. Recent studies show that an antler's 
shape is due to more than just genetics; it is 
also influenced by the environment and the 
experiences of the deer itself If a buck has low 
social standing, he is more likely to have small 
antlers, and bucks that live in pine forests are 
more likely to have small antlers than are 
bucks living in hardwood forests. Researchers 
speculate this has to do with poor nutrition 
and/or lack of undergrowth in pine forests 
(contact promotes growth). 

The growth of anders is a race between 
cartilage and bone; the more quickly the carti- 
lage grows, the bigger and more complex the 
antlers will be. This race is governed in part by 
the mix of hormones in a buck's bloodstream. 
Higher testosterone during the spring may 
lead to slower bone transformation ;uid big- 
ger, more elaborate antlers. 

If a buck is castrated while he's still in vel- 
vet, his testosterone levels will drop immedi- 
ately and he won't produce the fall surge that 
sheds the velvet. In this case, the cartilage in 
his antlers keep growing and growing, but it 
develops fistftils of knobs and lumps instead 
oi smooth branches. Sometimes bucks with 
this condition are called "cactus bucks " lor the 
uneven, almost prickly, shape of their antlers. 
However, if a buck is castrated after he's al- 
ready had his normal fill testosterone surge 
and shed his velvet, he'll drop his antlers with- 
in a few weeks. 

New research reveals that antler shape 
;ilso has a relationship with the brain. Nerves 
in the antlers send signals that stimulate the 
_5 growth of nerves in the brain. Over time, this 

^ stimulation forms a template for the ander's 

@ ^ 

Top, an injury resulting in the loss of one eye led to irregular antler development In tfiis buck. 
Drawings show how an injury to an antler affected growth over subsequent years. 

Here, 2 years after an injury the antler 
exhibits an unusual growth pattern. 


A buck castrated while in velvet will lose his 
ability to shed the velvet and, instead, grow 
cartilage full of knobs and lumps. 

shape. Even after the antlers have been shed, 
this "nerve template" remains. 

When a buck begins to grow antlers 
again, the brain sends out signals directing the 
growth of blood vessels and nerves, which can 
speed up or slow down the growth of cartilage 
in different parts of the antler. The directions 
that the brain sends to the growing anrler tis- 
sue are based on the template that was created 
in the previous year, meaning that the shape of 
the new antlers is framed on the shape of the 
old antlers. Antlers grow larger and more 
complex as a deer ages, but the basic frame- 
work from earlier years is always retained. 

The interaction between antler and brain 
means that an injury to the velvet can lead to a 
dramatic change in the antler itself When an 
antler is hurt, as in the case of our young buck 
startled by the breaking branch, the nerves 
send out more signals, leading the brain to 
make a stronger impression of the hurt area. 
The following spring, when the brain begins 
to direct the growth of tissue, it seeks to match 
the strong impression left in the template by 
that old injury, so it mistakenly causes in- 
creased growth at the injured spot that often 
leads to a new point. 

Even more amazing is how a wound on 
one antler can cause a new tine on the other 
antler. This occurs because the brain is predis- 
posed to symmetry. If an injury leaves a deep 
imprint on one side of the brain, the other side 
will develop a matching imprint. This means 
that, in the next season, a buck will more likely 
than not develop new growth on both antlers. 

This image demonstrates what can happen as a buck matures. In this case, an early injury 
stunted growth of the left antler and delayed the velvet from shedding. 

This can lead to some very weird but 
very interesting antlers. In one study, re- 
searchers implanted a pacemaker at the base 
of the right antler in a late fall buck. The pace- 
maker sent out constant, mild pulses of elec- 
tricity, stimulating the nerves in the right 
antler and making them send an unusually 
strong message to the buck's brain. The next 
year that buck's new right antler grew spiraled 
and twisted, and so did his left ander, even 
though the pacemaker only sent signals from 
the right side. 

Antlers, then, are links to a buck's past 
and to his future. They're the physical evi- 
dence of his status, his health, his history. 

They're the product of an intricate interweav- 
ing of physiology and environment, and 
they're absolutely amazing. □ 

Jason Davis is an assistant professor of biology at 
Riidford University. His research focuses on 
physiological processes in wild animals. 


Bubenik G.A. & Bubenik, A.B (1990). Horns, prong- 
horns, and antlers: evolution, morphology, physi- 
ology, and social significance. Springer, New York, 

Kierdorf, U.; Li, C; Price, J.S. (2009). Improbable ap- 
pendages: Deer antler renewal is a unigue case of 
mammalian regeneration. Seminars in Cell & De- 
velopmental Biology 20, (535-542). 

FEBRUARY 2011 13 

tearing the Sifills 

to Survive 

A professional tracker 

shares some rules 

for hunters to live by. 

story and photos ♦ by Gail Brown 


here are people who would have 
you think tracking is something 
mystical. It's not," states Roy 
Hutchinson, survival skills specialist and 
member oi the International Society of Pro- 
fessional Trackers (ISPT). "It is a learned set 
of skills that can be taught to anyone. That 
said, I've never met a great tracker who lived 
in a box. A great tracker has a thirst for mys- 
tery. Every tracking adventure is a mystery to 
be solved, a classic 'who done it' with a con- 
stantly changing set of variables." 

Hutchinson, whose experience includes 
over 14 years working with search and rescue 
teams and a lifetime of experiences reading 
sign in challenging environments, instructs 
law enforcement in tracking and survival 
skills and is also a volunteer instructor for the 
Department. Those who attend his classes 
will find him humorous, knowledgeable, and 
more than serious about helping others mas- 
ter the skills needed to stay in control and re- 
turn safely Irom their outdoor adventures. 
Before leaving class, participants will better 
appreciate the need to attend to details, the 
necessity of building confidence through ex- 
perience, and the value of its counter- 
weight — caution. Hutchinson will share 
some rules to live by: "Never leave your pack. 
Believe it can happen to you. Learn map and 
compass skills so you won't get lost. Or learn 
survival skills; you're going to need them. " 

Lamar Hines, owner of Hines Drywall, 
Inc., father and lifelong hunter, appreciates 
the importance of mastering survival skills, 
even though he's learned some lessons the 
hard way. A skilled tracker, Hines wants liis 
son to have the same kind of childhood he 
had, the same opportunities to hunt and 
roam the woods. Hines is proud of the suc- 
cess he's had learning to track, building on 
skills begun at the age of three when he first 

Here, something hit the ground with 
enough force to dislodge the ground cover 
from its natural place. Displaced vegetation 
is a sign of passage. 

followed his dad into the woods of Amelia 
County. Yet, seeing the blood-trails that his 
father could easily follow was a challenge, one 
better understood when he learned he was 
color blind. It was a condition that would im- 
pact his hunting experiences for the rest of his 
life, albeit not in the way he thought at the 
time. By age nine, Hines had acljusted and 
taught himself to look carefully for different 
kinds of clues. While he didn't know it then, 
a life-long love affair with tracking had 

"I found out as a young boy I can't see 
shades of color," says Hines. "Wlien tracking, 
unless there's a lot of blood, I just can't see it. 
All shades look the same to me. In order to 
track an animal, I get down on the ground 
and look carefully for other things, things 
diat are different: a twig broken, something 
out of place, or missing, or even something 
found where it shouldn't be." Tracking is 

Lamar Hines is teaching his son, Hayden, 
to track. He wants his son to have the 
sanne experiences he had growing up 
hunting in Virginia. 


2 M^^'i^^-^ person./ resources 
ishetef: water heatj 


what Hines considers the heart of the hunting 
experience. It's a mystery to him why any 
himter wouldn't take the time to learn to track. 
But then, he figures, each person decides for 
himself what he wants from his experiences in 
the woods. "I can't tell you how many deer I've 
found that people had given up on. They get 
ahead ot themselves, kicking up leaves and 
widking through tracks, not noticing where 
they're stepping. They miss things. " 

"In order to see more, and see differently, 
you need to spend more time really looking," 
states Hutchinson. "Finding and interpreting 
signs of passage have to do with first locating 
the evidence that something has traveled 
where you are looking, and then determining 
what made the sign. It's intuitive, a marriage of 
art and science. Tracking is also a great teacher 
of humility. The more you learn, the more you 
realize how much you don't know. A good 
tracker realizes he will never be an expert, and 
is always willing to say 'I don't know'. But by 
looking carefully, the signs you uncover will 
tell the story of what occurred in a given area. 
For law enforcement, that's called evidence. 

Finding and interpreting signs of passage 
have to do with first locating the evidence 
that something has traveled where you 
are looking, and then determining what 
made the sign. It's intuitive, a marriage of 
art and science. 

For a hunter, this could tell him why, and bet- 
ter yet when, the anim;ils use an area. There's 
very little sense in putting your stand over a 
deer trail that's used only at night. " 

Solving the how and the why, unraveling 
the myster)', is the part of hunting that Hines 
loves best. Over the years Hines also developed 
a healthy respect for survival skills, although 
his enthusiasm and confidence often trumped 
discretion in the past. When shown Hutchin- 
son's list of survival strategies and asked to 
comment on what guidelines he might need to 
brush up on, Hines glanced down the list and 
tapped number 6. "Ihat one," admits Hines. 
"I'm so comfortable in the woods I've made 
mistakes thinking 1 can do more than I can. " 
Number 6 says it clearly: "Know your limits 
and don't exceed them." Rut Hines did exceed 
them one cold winter day — a perfect day to 
hunt, track, and learn his limits the hard way. 


"We'd been invited to hunt on private 
land along the Appomattox, llie owner had 35 
DCAP Stamps; we were given 1 5. It was a clear 
winter day, just made for hunting and track- 
ing; everything was perfect." And ;ill did go 
right, until that night when Hines tried to help 
a friend retrieve his dogs. "We'd gotten all but 
one, Star. We could hear her, anci see her, 
across the river in the beam oi our headlamps. 
She must have f;illen down the embankment 
because she was in a spot where she couldn't 
exit to either side and she couldn't climb back 
up the hill. You could see she was hurt and 

Hines readily admits he should have 
walked back for his waders, even wishes he had, 
but it was late and he was tired and, in the end, 
when confidence and caution collided, he took 
offhis new boots and waded out into the river, 
making his second serious mistake that night. 

"The air temperature was about 30° F, no 
more than 40° F in the water. Where I entered 
the river it wasn't too deep, not even waist 
high, and only 25—30 feet wide. When I got to 
the other side it was much deeper; I couldn't 
get to her. I had to climb up, then down the 
embankment, get the dog, and carry her out 
the same way. I cut my feet up something terri- 
ble. By the time I was halfway back across the 
river, I knew I was in trouble. My body wasn't 
cold because I was wearing Gore-Tex, but 1 
couldn't feel my feet. I'd seen a friend in a simi- 
lar situation... same freezing water. It was 
dark; he got fooled by the branches and leaves 
along the bank and, thinking he was on solid 
land, stepped off into deep water. He would 
have been in serious trouble if we hadn't been 
there to help. " 

"Getting wet in the cold can be a death 
sentence," Hutchinson cautions. "Hypother- 
mia can set in quickly and you lose your ability 
to reason. In one [rescue] case I was involved 
in, the person had everything needed to survive 
the night right there with him in his pack. He 
had fallen, broken his leg, and no doubt pan- 
icked. We all need to learn it's okay to be afraid, 
but that running into the woods won't get us to 
safety. He wouldn't have been comfortable, 
and no doubt he was in pain, but he was still 
safer where he was. Unfortunately, he left his 
pack, maybe thinking he could move faster 

Left, a sign of passage is created when 
material is transferred from one area to a 
place that it is not normally seen. Right, 
careful observation, knowledge of weather 
conditions, use of an index print for compari- 
son, and logic all help the tracker determine 
time of passage. 

DGIF instructor Roy Hutchinson and Outdoor Education staff Jimmy Mootz and Karen Holson 
prepare for the Map and Compass/GPS Navigation class for upcoming educational events. 

without it, and managed to crawl about 400 
yards. There's a condition called paradoxical 
undressing. This occurs when a person, 
under moderate to severe hypothermia, gets 
disorientated and discards his clothes. This 
condition causes a hormonal release that 
makes your brain believe you are warm. Peo- 
ple have been known to take off their clothes, 
fold them neatly, and leave them on the path 
before walking off to no good end. This man 
did the same." 

Hutchinson offers an anachronism to 
help people stay alive: S.T.O.P. — Stop- 
Think-Observe-Plan. And that's one thing 
he wants people to learn in his classes. 
"Whether you are cold, or lost, or both, you 
need to teach yourself to look around, use all 
your senses, assess your situation, and make a 
plan. You can manage panic with a plan. And 
a plan helps you keep a positive attitude, 
which makes all the difference." 

And Hines? 

"I lost all sense of feeling in my feet, and 
then warmed them up too quickly. The pain 
was terrible, but I was lucky. In the end, I 
didn't suffer any permanent tissue damage." 
Hines paid a price, however, and he pays it 
over and over every winter. "I never used to 
get cold; it's just the way I'd always been. But 
now my feet get cold right away. I regret that. 
I'd still never leave a dog, but I'm much more 
attentive to safety details, especially now that 
I'm teaching my son to hunt and track. I 
want him to stay safe; he can learn that. Atid 
he'll never forget the things he sees and learns 
in the woods. They'll stick to his brain like 
glue. He'll look at all things differently. " 

Hutchinson couldn't agree more. □ 

Gail Brown is a retired teacher and school 



the claims. . 

and the 


by David Kocka 
and Dr. Bill McShea 

^ I t can happen anywhere — at a 
/ sportsmen's show, next to the cof- 
S^ fee urn at the local convenience 
store, or in church on Sunday morning. As 
soon as you are pegged as a wildlife biologist 
someone will ask you about the rumor circu- 
lating of a mountain lion in the area. In re- 
cent years this has become a weekly, if not 
daily, event. Access to the Internet and over- 
saturation of information through cell 
phones, blackberrys, and the like adds to the 
frenzy. More and more images appear as 

photo attachments to emails claiming to 
have been taken in Virginia. With some de- 
tective work, they are often debunked as pic- 
tures from a western state that are now 
making the Internet circuit, maybe even 
more than once. Thankfully, there are web- 
sites such as that assist us in 
bringing the facts to light. 

But what do we know about mountain 
lions (aka. cougars, panthers, pumas, cata- 
mounts) in Virginia? As reported in our 
1991 publication, Virginias Endangered 
Species (McDonald & Woodward publish- 
ing Co.), mountain lions existed statewide at 
the time ol European settlement but presum- 
ably were extirpated from Virginia by the 

S/k: Coir PK 







1880s. According to Handley and Patten's 
Wild Mammals of Virginia, published in 
1947, the last Virginia mountain lion was 
killed in Washington County in 1882. The 
authors further stated that "reported" sight- 
ings in the early 20* century "must be looked 
at with considerable skepticism." 

Several researchers point to an increase 
in sightings in the 1 970s as possible evidence 
that lions existed in Virginia at that time. 
Robert Downing, now a retired biologist 
with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, spent 
five years snow tracking along the Blue Ridge 
Parkway and within various areas on U.S. 
Forest Service lands in Virginia looking for 
evidence of lions. At the end of that period he 

reported that "no indisputable sign of 
cougars was found." 

But that was 40 years ago. Are mountain 
lions here in the commonwealth today? 
What about ail of the "sightings" that get re- 
ported to the Department (DGIF) either di- 
rectly or indirectly? Let us start by looking at 
the current, reported range of big cats in the 
contiguous 48 states and then look more 
specifically at Virginia. 

The September 2009 issue oi National 
Geographic identifies the current, established 
range of cougars. These published maps are 
based upon confirmed photographs, carcass- 
es, or paw prints. Except for the Florida pan- 
ther, the closest confirmed wild cougars 

he Facts Ain't Lion 

appear to be in Michigan, Wisconsin, 
Arkansas, and western Louisiana. The cats do 
appear to be expanding their range eastward 
in recent decades. With deer herds at record 
levels in the East, the prey base is certainly 
present for mountain lions. Could these lions 
tolerate the dense human populations of the 
East? This remains to be seen, but they do 
quite well in the suburbs of Colorado and 

Remember, sightings by themselves are 
not evidence! Harley Shaw, a retired moun- 
tain lion biologist who spent decades study- 
ing the big cats for the Arizona Department 
of Game and Fish is quoted as saying, "After 
years of chasing UFOs — unidentified ficrry 
objects — I now discount out-of-hand any 
sightings of lions, even from professional bi- 
ologists. The human mind is a strange and 
wonderful thing, and it's totally unreliable. " 

The Department's information would 
seem to support the range map created by the 
National Geographic Society. 

Calls to the DGIF have averaged ap- 
proximately two sightings of large cats a 
month in recent years. To date, none of these 
reports has been substantiated by a photo- 
graph, a carcass, or a track. When we re- 
viewed these reports, we found that as many 
as 25 percent are of a large black cat. Impor- 
tantly, there is no reported melanistic phase 
of cougars or pumas in the literature. Jaguars 
are known to have a black phase, but their 
range did not extend any farther north than 
Central America. In those few instances 
where the information appears credible, in- 
vestigation by staff has always confirmed the 
animal to be a bobcat, black bear, domestic 
cat, or dog. 

What other data exist to support, or re- 
fute, the existence of lions in Virginia? First, it 
is commonly known that in the western U.S. 
where mountain lions are hunted, they are 
often pursued by hounds, because they are 
known for "treeing" relatively easily during 
such a chase. Estimates of as many as 70,000 
hunters in Virginia use hounds to chase black 
bears, raccoons, bobcats, and foxes. During 
the various hunting seasons that exist across 
many months throughout the year, moun- 
tain lions have never been treed. 

Mountain lions are considerably larger 
than a bobcat and can reach up to 200 lbs. 

at maturity. 

FEBRUARY 2011 19 


National Geographic, 

Sept. 2009 


1 10 70 

Confirmation of wild 
cougars outside range, 
1990-May 2009 (by county) 
A cat may be feported more than once 

^1 Established wild cougar range [HI State with: confirmation 

House cat Boocat 

8-25 lbs 15-30 lbs 

Each year bowhunters in Virginia are 
surveyed to report on the various species of 
animals they obser^'e during their trips afield. 
Monitoring wildlife populations with 
archery hunter observation data is a tool used 
by many states and provides a reliable index 
to population trends. During 2008, over 
20,282 hours were logged by 374 bow- 
hunters throughout Virginia. No big cats 
have been reported on any of these annual 
surveys, which have taken place since 1997. 
If a large cat was observed, it would still have 
to be confirmed by an attendant photograph, 
carcass, or track of the animal. 

A common technique for documenting 
elusive species is the use of trail cameras. Each 
year more sportsmen and non-sportsmen 
alike use these cameras to document the crit- 
ters inhabiting the backyard as well as the 
deep woods. Despite its growing popularity, 
not one trail camera has documented a wild 
cat in Virginia, with the exception of the na- 
tive bobcat. 

From 1997-2001, Shenandoah Na- 
tional Park personnel also utilized numerous 

With some detective work, images of 
cougars are often debunked as 
pictures from a western state that 
are now making the Internet circuit, 
maybe even more than once. 


trail cameras, which had been baited with 
deer carcasses in an effort to document the 
presence of coyotes. Hundreds oi pictures 
were obtained of black bears, bobcats, and 
raccoons, as well as some coyotes, but no big 

Furthermore, from 2007 through 2009 
one of the authors (Dr. Bill McShea) made 
use of volunteers with trail cameras along the 
Appalachian Trail from North Carolina 
through Pennsylvania, in an effort to docu- 
ment species in some of the more remote 
areas of these states. Eighty percent of the 
sampling occurred in Virginia. Volunteers 
sampled 575 locations near the trail, includ- 
ing over 1 50 points in Shenandoah National 
Park (a total sampling effort of over 16,000 
trap nights). Again, they obtained pictures of 
black bears (430), bobcats (57), coyotes (89), 
red foxes (59), and gray foxes (48), but no 
cougars. If there is a small population of 
mountain lions residing within their survey 
area, yet not detectable at that level of pursuit, 
the population would probably not be viable. 

Could mountain lions held in captivity 
have escaped and be establishing a popula- 
tion in Virginia? This would also appear un- 
likely, as during the few instances in recent 
years when this has occurred the cats were so 
accustomed to people that they were often 
found short distances away, instead of in 
some remote wilderness. 

The bottom line: The DGIF and the 
National Geographic Society do not believe 
that mountain lions currently exist in the 
commonwealth. But mountain lions do ap- 
pear to be colonizing some of their former 
range by expanding eastward. If they move 
this far, could they become established here 
over time? The answer will depend upon their 
ability to adapt to a state with over seven mil- 
lion human inhabitants. The prey base is 
waiting for them, as well as many diehard 
fans of these elusive creatures. □ 



^-..-.-. ^*;f:«ife^ 



.^- _ '^^ j^NdAj 







■ " <:' 


David Kocka, District Biologist 

Virginia Dept. ofGameand Inland Fisheries 

517 Lee Hwy., Verona, VA 24482 

(540) 248-9360 


William J. McShea, Wildlife Ecologist 

Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute 

Conservation Ecology Center 

National Zoological Park 

1500 Remount Rd., Front Royal, VA 22630 


FEBRUARY 2011 21 

^ ^ •*- 



"^ \<..> 



essay and photos ♦ by Wayne Riner 

Wayne Riner with his trusted camera in 
the mountains of Dickenson County. 

nespite the years and various 
methods of coal mining 
and, more recently, gas 
drilling and pipelines, there remains a 
beauty to the high ridges ot our moun- 
tains. The reclamation of new and old 
strip mines has provided open areas 
planted in trees, grasses, and clover used 
by wildlife. Consequently, deer, bear, 
and turkey have returned to this part of 
the Appalachians where they had not 
been seen for many years. Tliese animals 
may have repopulated the hollers and 
mountaintops without the assistance of 
the reclamation work required by the 
government, but more thim likely it cer- 
tainly helped. The past damage to the 

landscape will never be erased, but 1 look 
for beauty and photograph it from my 
vantage point on top of the mountain. 

Photographers know there is a mag- 
ical time each morning and evening to 
capture images of nature, times in which 
light conditions produce the very best 
shots. Morning and evening light is re- 
flected through the atmosphere and 
clouds to create soft colors, which gives 
the scene a pleasing appearance. I always 
carry a camera with me to take advantage 
of those special moments when the color 
is just right. 

Wherever we are, we should look 
for beauty in our surroundings. When 
outdoors, pause to look and listen. □ 


FEBRUARY 2011 23 



NUT>*— — 

AS Investment 

by Clarke C.Jones 

l_J atiguc clouds animal instinct as mil as human judgment, hut the old mallard should have 
I ' known hetter. Weary from persistent, hujfeting winds this wintry day in 1913, lie brought his 
_JL_ flock closer to the decoys gathered below him. Floating peacefully as they preened and fed, the 

wooden conspirators encouraged any flock of ducks in the area to drop into the leauard cove. Many of the de- 
coys had been carved by the hunter himself, but a few were strays which had brokoi free in some storm and had 
drifted into the marshes and spits -where he hunted. The man thought himselflucky to have a few hollow decoys 
made by some "fella " near Chi)icoteague. These loere not intricately detailed, feathered decoys. To most people, 
they appeared to be crudely carved blocks of wood. But it was not impiortant how these decoys looked to inost 
people; it urns lohat they looked like to ducks. They seemed to float better, which meant more realistically. A bet- 
ter floating decoy zvas a better tool, and that's all a decoy was to him and anyone else who made a living out of 
gunning waterfowl. 

A feeding chatter seductively called from one of the false ducks below, negatiiig whatever hesitancy the 
lead Diallard may have had. As the flock cupped their zoings and dropped their feet for a landing, the roar of a ten 
gauge exploded from the reeds, thus eUminating the drake and tioo of his compianioiis from the possibility of 
ever making a future instinctive mistake. 

The old waterman gathered a few of his wooden decoys and their victims into his small boat. Most of the 
rig of 60 or so blocks he would leave behind, for he would return later that day if the wind loas right and the chop 
not too bad. He rowed the mile and a half to his shack tinvugli the spitting sleet, which iiow began to cling to the 
loeather-cracked oars atid his old oilskin coat. Thirty ducks zoas not a bad haul for a morning's work. Although 
ducks paid meagerly for the hard and oftoi dangerous profession of a market gunner, there xvould be food for his 
family. However, most of his labors would wind up hi the fancy restaurants ofBalthnore and Neiv York City. 
The ivaterfowler docked his small boat, gathered his gun, and headed toward the warmth of his small 
cabin, leaving the remaining small zoooden statues in his boat to fend for themsehes in the freezhig rah}. Little 
did this zoatcrman susf^ect that nearly 75 years later, just one of these luvid-carved tools zvould sell for far more 
money than he could have dreained. 

FEBRUARY 2011 25 

Above, a peek at the decoys and tools of 
the trade of carver Grayson Chesser. 
Below/, an aw/ard-winning gadwall drake 
made of foam covered in burlap, carved 
by William Bruce. 

With the advent of the industrial revolu- 
tion, American prosperity increased and 
tastes began to change. Duck and oyster dish- 
es became popular table fare north of the 
Mason-Dixon Line. Eastern Shore watermen 
and duck hunters did much to supply that 
demand. A well-carved decoy aided the duck 
hunter and such carvers as Dave "Umbrella" 
Watson, Ira Hudson, and Nathan Cobb were 
some of the finest carvers around. 

In order to protect waterfowl from ex- 
tinction, however, the Migratory Bird Treaty 
was passed in 1918 and the careers of market 
gunners ended, thereby reducing the need for 
hand-carved decoys. By the end of World 
War II, development of plastics made wood- 
en decoys obsolete. Duck hunting was now a 
sport and not a business, and plastic decoys 
were much cheaper and easier to take hunt- 

As a result, h.uid-carved wooden decoys 
sat for decades in attics and sheds or, sadly, 
were used for kindling. They became scarce, 
rare, unwanted, and forgotten until the art 
world was awakened lo their value in the e.irlv 

1970s. Dr James McCleery, who later was 
considered one of America's premier decoy 
collectors, plopped down $10,500 for one 
decoy at an auction in 1 972. With the medi- 
an family income being slightly over $ 1 3,500 
at the time, paying such a price for a piece of 
wood was unheard of 

"Not just the general public, but experi- 
enced decoy collectors thought him crazy," 
recalls Joe Engers, editor and publisher of 
Decoy Magazine. The art world never again 
looked at old wooden decoys in the same way. 
Once the waterfowl decoys became consid- 
ered "folk art" by those who know the value 
of such things, the search for them grew 
quickly and quietly. The old axiom of supply 
and demand was about to have a tremendous 
effect on a previously unknown market. In 
2003, an Elmer Crowell pintail decoy — auc- 
tioned by Guyette & Schmidt of St. 
Michaels, Maryland, in conjunction with 
Christie's — was auctioned for approximately 
$801,500. Four years later the same decoy 
was sold by Stephen O'Brien Jr., owner of 
Copley Fine Art Auctions in Boston, Massa- 
chusetts, for over $ 1 ,000,000. 

Past collectors of note have included 
singer Andy Williams and Paul ludor Jones, 
the University of Virginia graduate who do- 
nated over $30,000,000 in honor of his fa- 
ther to build the John Paul Jones Arena at the 

©Tnscha lones 

Investing Wisely 

When purchasing a grand decoy that was 
carved by a Watson, Cobb, or Hudson, one 
must first do his research. A smart collector of 
decoys is somewhat of a scholar. He studies all 
aspects of a decoy: its age, the carver, and 
the history of both the carver and the decoy 
itself Tommy O'Conner from Tidewater 
would certainly qualify as an astute collector 


Above, Grayson Chesser provides details 
about decoy carving. Below, an original 
paint pintail drake by Ira Hudson, 
Cliincoteague, circa 1910. Valued today 
at around $410,000. 

ot decoys. O'Conner began to collect decoys 
after he found an old wooden one in a marsh 
at Back Bay and became fascinated by them. 
That 40-year fascination has grown to him 
owning, at one time, close to 1 ,200 decoys. "I 
never looked at decoys as an investment 
first," says Tommy. "My tavorite carver was 
Nathan Cobb, but I collect what I like and 
don't collect a particular decoy because of the 
carver or a particular bird." 

When asked which contemporary Vir- 
ginia decoy carvers collectors should be on 
the look-out for as rising stars oi the future, 
both O'Connor and O'Brien recommend 
that you look at the carvings of Mark McNair 
and his sons oi Craddocksville, and Grayson 
Chesser of Sanford. 

Mark McNair has been carving since the 
early 1 970s and says he has gone ftom selling 
decoys at "...informal parking lot affairs to 
where, over the past few years, things have 
evolved toward my working through some 
very top-notch galleries — which has been 

Although Mark is considered a top 
decoy carver, he is most proud of his two 
sons, Ian and Colin, who are talented carvers 
in their own right. "They come by their abili- 
ties quite naturally," says Mark. "By that I 
mean, they were born to this in many ways. 
First oft, they have God-given talents. Com- 
bine that with growing up on the Chesa- 
peake, an inherent love of nature and the 
outdoors, an artist's eye, and excellent manual 
dexterity. Add some hard work and the rest 
is easy. " 

Nationally known Virginia carver and 
former Eastern Shore "Ducks Unlimited 
Carver of the Year " Grayson Chesser carves 
the decoys he will hunt over. Grayson, who 
also collects decoys, works as a guide during 
waterfowl season. He started carving around 
1960. "People who hunt with me want to 
buy my decoys after they have hunted over 

FEBRUARY 2011 27 

diem," Grayson explains. "For many, me in- 
cluded, gunning over handmade decoys takes 
people back to a more romantic and simpler 
period." There is a distinction between a 
working decoy and a decorative decoy. 
Chesser describes working decoys this way. 
"A good decoy is like an impressionist paint- 
ing. You don't have to paint feathers — you 
paint the illusion of feathers." Chesser further 
disdnguishes between the two, "A good hunt- 
ing decoy can be a work of art. However, a 
good decorative decoy may be a good work of 
art but not a good hunting decoy." By that he 
means its technical aspects — flotation and 
balance, for example — may be lacking. 

Today, contemporary decoy carving can 
take many forms, from interpretive, to deco- 
rative, to working. Although wooden decoys 
are not used as much in duck hunting as they 
once were, they are still used. In Accomack 
County on the Eastern Shore, it is estimated 
that there are more decoy carvers per capita 
than in any other place in the country. There 
are at least 30 carvers who earn part of their 
living from carving decoys. 

Jim Britton of Reedville and William 
Bruce of White Stone have been carving de- 
coys for decades. Jim believes one of the ad- 
vantages of making traditional hunting 
decoys is that you do not need to invest a for- 
tune in power tools. "You may be able to 
make decoys faster with a lot of equipment," 
say Britton, "but that does not mean you will 
make them better." For Jim, tupelo is often 
the wood of choice for his decorative decoys, 
while cedar or kiln-dried white pine is used 
for working decoys. 

Both gentlemen can be found each fall 
at the Rappahannock River Waterfowl Show 
(www.rrws.oii; ) in White Stone, which will 
celebrate its 32nd year in 201 1 according to 
Pat Bruce, William's wife. "William is the co- 
chair of this show. Tlie decoy contest which 
occurs in conjunction with the show is one of 
the largest and oldest wildfowl art shows on 
the East Coast. The contest has all classes of 
carvings: gunning decoys, decorative decoys, 
and buoy decoys — which are made from crab 
pot buoys. " 

Tips for New Collectors 

Whether collecting rare coins, stamps, fine 
wines, or any other lorms ol artwork, collect- 
ing hand-carved decoys can be a rewarding 
experience. Mark McNair ofTers a few sugges- 

Two, half-sized blue herons are in the process of creation at Jim Britton's workshop. 
Because herons are so wary of humans, having heron decoys around your duck blind gives 
other ducks/geese confidence that no people are around. 

tions to the novice collector. "Purchase Adele 
Earnest's" book IJye Art of the Decoy, llieii 
read it. Although it was published in the 
1970s, it's still fresh and relevant. Go to a 
decoy show and look around. Handle all the 
birds you can, especially the good ones. Resist 
the temptation to purchase something right 

Tliere are any numbers of levels for en- 
tering decoy collecting, lind a carver whose 

work you appreciate and start with one decoy. 
Recognize that you are not only collecting 
art, you are collecting history. And as with 
any collecting hobby, learning the history of 
the carver and the decoy can be almost as re- 
warding as owning the decoy itself □ 

CLnke C. Jones spends his spare time with his black 
Labrador retriever, Luke, huntingiip good stories. 
You can visit C'Ltrke and Luke on their website at 
www. clarkecjones. com. 




Detk Mater 

V^hieiell Berry: CoUecteel Poetns 

Originally Published by North Point 

Available on, and, 
Powell's, and from your independent book- 

The Peace of Wild Things 

When despair of the world grows in me 
and I wake in the night to the least sound 
in fear of what my life, and my children's 

lives may be, 

I go and lie down where the wood drake 

rests in his beauty on the water, and the 

great heron feeds. 

I come into the peace of wild things 

who do not tax their lives with forethought 

of grief. I come into the presence of still water. 

And I feel above me the day-blind stars 

waiting with their light. For a time 

I rest in the grace of the world, and am fee. 

—Wendell Berry 

When I began this little column in 2006, I 
originally brought to your attention quality 
outdoor classics from the golden age of out- 
door writing, as well as important books from 
a new pantheon of hunting, fishing, and na- 
ture writers, whose works were beginning to 
gain recognition. Currently, I tend to focus 
on hot-off-the press hook and bullet titles, 
field guides, and reference works, and it's 
been awhile since I've reviewed what I'd con- 
sider to be a 'touchstone' volume from the 
canon of venerable outdoor literature. So this 
month, it seems fitting to present Wendell 

Berry's classic poetry collection for your win- 
ter reading pleasure. 

For over 40 years, poet, essayist and nov- 
elist Wendell Berry has lived and worked 
with his wife, Tanya, on their farm in Port 
Royal, Kentucky, on land his family has 
maintained for generations. He has taught at 
numerous colleges and imiversities, and his 
work centers primarily on agrarian life, com- 
munity, and the concerns of the natural 
world. He once stated that his life's work was 
largely motivated by the desire to make him- 
self at home in the world, and in his native 
and chosen place. Whether he is writing 
about ripe raspberries, elm trees, compost, 
bobwhite, field mice, family, or the Milky 
Way, his poetry reflects these desires. 

His work is infused with concerns about 
the responsible use of resources, land stew- 
ardship, sustainable agriculture, and the 
ethics of food production. Those of us who 
hunt, fish, tend bees, and maintain gardens 
will feel a kinship with what Berry means by 
"eating with understanding and gratitude, 
and with an accurate consciousness of the 
lives and the world from which food comes." 
The poetry in this volume will appeal to all 
lovers of wildlife and outdoor traditions who, 
in their daily and seasonal rounds seek, in as 
much as it's possible, to live in harmony with 
nature. Enjoy. 

Let me desire and wish well the life 

these trees may live when 1 

no longer rise in the mornings 

to be pleased by the shade of than 

shining, and their shadows on the ground, 

and the sound of the wind in them. 

— Planting Trees 




With the Department's largest trout pro- 
duction facility back in operation, Virginia 
trout anglers will begin to experience some 
of the best fishing ever. As many of you 
know, the Department closed the Coursey 
Springs Fish Culture Station in 2008 for a 
complete restoration. Our new facility sig- 
nificantly increases trout production capa- 
bilities while meeting higher water quality 

In the past, to get as much as possible 
from the four other production facilities, 
fish were crowded during rearing and, as a 
result, trout were smaller than average. 
Now, stocked streams will not just be re- 
ceiving more trout, but larger fish as well. 
This will continue to improve as Coursey 
Springs reaches full production. All waters 
in the stocking program will receive an in- 
crease in both the number of stockings and 
the amount of fish included during each 
event. Perhaps more significant for many 
anglers will be an improvement in the qual- 
ity offish coming from all Department fa- 

To get the most up-to-date informa- 
tion on the program, visit the Department's 
website at and check 
the Trout Fishing Guide and the "Daily 
Trout Stocking Schedule. " Anglers can also 
get daily trout stocking updates by calling 
(434) 525-FISH (3474). And don't forget 
that the first Saturday in April (April 2) is 
"Trout Heritage Day," when selected waters 
that have been closed and stocked with 
trout will reopen at 9:00 A.M. with a tradi- 
tional opening day atmosphere. So pull out 
your tackle, connect with friends and fam- 
ily, and get out to fish for trout this spring! 

©Tye Krueger 



3rd Annual 

Virsinia NASP State Tournament 
February 26, 201 1 

Meadow Event Park in Doswell, VA 


"Dad, how come we don't eat worms but eat 
the fish that eat the worms?" 

The 2011 Great Backyard 


Anyone can participate, from 
beginning bird watchers to experts 
It takes as little as 15 minutes on 
one day, or you can count for as 
long as you like each day of the 
event. It's free, fun, and easy — 
and it helps the birds. 

February 18-February 21 
Please join us! 


Virginia Pepartwent of &ame and Inland Fisheries 

Outdoor Report 

Managing and Conserving 
Our Wildlife and Natural Resources 

For a free email subscription, 

visit our website at 

Ch'ck on the Outdoor Report link 
and simply fill in the required information. 


Congratulations go to Sammy Shelton of Gretna 
for his lovely photograph of a male Northern car- 
dinal taken during a snow storm in February 
2010. Sammy used a Canon Rebel XT and a 
Canon 75-300mm lens to capture this shot. 

You are invited to submit one to five of your best 
photographs to "Image of the Month," Virginia 
Wildlife Magazine, P.O. Box 11104, 4010 West 
Broad Street, Richmond, VA 23230-1104. Send 
original slides, super high-quality prints, or high- 
res jpeg, tiff, or raw files on a disk and include a 
self-addressed, stamped envelope or other ship- 
ping method for return. Also, please include any 
pertinent information regarding how and where 
you captured the image and what camera and set- 
tings you used, along with your phone number. 
We look forward to seeing and sharing your work 
with our readers. 


Learn to Fly Fish at the 
Virginia Fly Fishing Festival 

story and photos ^ by Beau Beosley 

Every April, historic downtown Way- 
nesboro plays host to the Virginia 
Fly Fishing Festival, which is held on 
the banks of the South River and draws 
thousands of fly anglers from across the mid- 
Atlantic. The 1 1th annual Virginia Fly Fish- 
ing Festival will return to Waynesboro on 
April 16-17, 2011. 

The South River tells a history all its 
own: It was the first urban trout fishery des- 
ignated by the Department of Game and In- 
land Fisheries (DGIF), chosen because of its 
abundant cold water and prime location 
running right through the middle of down- 

town. Most trout live in mountain streams; 
officials hoped to make trout fishing more 
accessible to the average angler by moving 
the fish closer to city dwellers. It seems only 
fitting that the South River also marks the 
birthplace of the Shenandoah Vdley Chap- 
ter of Trout Unlimited, the first such chapter 
in the state. 

The festival is held under a series of 
tents and includes vendors ranging from fly 
shops, to lodges, to guides, to national tackle 
manufacturers like Temple Fork Outfitters, 
Orvis, Montana Fly Company, and Ross 
Reels. Corporate sponsors of the festival in- 

clude Dominion, Blue Ridge Oral Surgery, 
and Subaru. Once admitted to the festival, at- 
tendees choose from a smorgasbord of free 
classes, like ladies-only casting classes, begin- 
ner seminars, and expert instruction on fly 
angling for everything from stripers to shad. 

A number of Virginia wineries also par- 
ticipate and offer wine tasting to attendees 
(21 years and older). Several Virginia artisans 
and topnotch bluegrass bands enrich the fes- 
tival experience. Angling parents are encour- 
aged to bring their children with them to this 
family-friendly festival — and children under 
16 are admitted free with a paying adult. Fly 
fishing legends Lefty Kreh and Bob Clouser 
will provide personal instruction and auto- 
graph their books. 

Establishing an urban trout fishery was a 
good idea. Today, the re-born South River 
provides the backdrop for an event that has 
drawn thousands closer to the outdoors and 
instilled a passion for conservation among a 
new generation of anglers. For more informa- 
tion about the Virginia Fly Fishing Festival 
and a complete schedule of events, visit or call 703-402- 
8338. D 

Beau Beosley is the director of the Virginia Fly 
Fishing Festival iviviv. His 
new book. Fly Fishingthe Mid-Atlantic, is available 
through his website at ivww. beaubeasley. com. 

FEBRUARY 2011 31 

It was that awkward time ot year that both 
of us hated. It was that time of year, late 
February, when duck season was over and the 
weather was still so miserable you couldn't do 
much outside. OF Jones was over at my 
house, sitting in my favorite chair, throwing 
peanut shells at the fireplace. Every now and 
then, a lew would make it into the fire. 

"I'm bored," he muttered. I looked at 
the small piles of peanut hulls littered about 
the room and said, "There is a broom in the 
hall closet if you are looking for something to 
do." or Jones just ignored that comment 
and continued — out loud — with his 
thought. "I am thinking about getting a new 
puppy, a close-hunting quail dog. Quail sea- 
son is still in and if I had a quail dog, it would 
add two to three weeks to my htmting sched- 

Every year, about this time, we have to 
play out this scenario until Jones comes out 
of his fiink. "What kind ol covey-busting 
pup do you envision hunting for you this 
year?" I asked. 

Jones let that bit of sarcasm pass and 
said, "Frankly, I have been thinking hard 
about a Brittany^ 

"A Brittany! " I exclaimed. "Now why 
would you want a little bobtailed, multi-col- 
ored, spaniel wanna-be from France? Do you 
have any idea how to speak French? You are 
going to look mighty silly on a quail hunt 
yelling, "Viens t'asseoir! Vous etes un chien!"\n 
front of your hunting buddies." Immediate- 
ly, I realized diat I had put Of Jones on the 
defensive. Fhis was a poor move on my part 
because Jones will start defending any idea he 
has if he feels boxed in. Even those he really 

doesn't believe in himself I could see I was 
in for a long-winded oratory, so I just settled 
in beside him and began to listen patiendy. 

"I have done a little research on this 
matter by speaking to a couple of people 
who really know Brittanys," Jones began. 
"Joe Archambeault of Lynchburg has 
owned, trained, trialed, and hunted Brits for 
over twenty years. Joe told me that 'I have 
owned both pointers and setters, but I pre- 
fer the Brittany breed because of its amiabil- 
ity, versatility, and intelligence. The 
Brittany is well suited for the type of bird 
hunting we have available to us in Virginia. 
They are good on grouse and typically hunt 
a little closer than most hunting breeds. My 
current Brittanys hunt hard but keep in 
touch. " or Jones then turned and said to 
me, "In other words, he himts witi) his dogs; 
he doesn't have to hunt/or them. When we 
are grouse hunting in the Blue Ridge, I 
don't need you to be on one mountain 
flushing a bird, while I am a mile away on 

I got up to go get something out of the 
fridge but Jones was just getting started. "I 
also spoke to Kathy Shannon of K Star Brit- 
tanys in Dillwyn, who got her first Brittany 
pup in 1979. She is an AKC Field Trial and 
Hunt Test judge and a UKC Field Trial 
judge and a temperament test evaluator 
widi the AITS!" 

I started to say we could use a little tem- 
perament testing around here, but I thought 
better of it. 

Jones continued. "Shannon also said 
that not only are Brits energetic hunters, 
they are very good at agility trials and good 

with an active family. In fact, Brittanys need a 
way to expend energy so they make a good 
dog for families that like to hike, jog, or 
hunt — although some might seem to be a lit- 
tle hard-headed at times. " 

A match made in heaven, I thought to 
myself "So what should a person do if he 
wants one of these dynamic dogs?" I inquired. 

"Kathy said that she tells people to re- 
quest a pedigree, and talk to members of the 
Tidewater and Northern Virginia Brittany 
Clubs to find out about a particular litter. As 
in any investment, do some homework," 
replied Jones. 

"One more thing," opined Of Jones. 
"The Brittany is a continental breed. It 
wouldn't hurt to have a little more class 
around this place! " 

I'd had enough of this for one day. 

"Listen," I announced as steadily as I 
could. "I have a great number of FC/AFC, 
NAFC/NFTC, GMHR, and an English SH 
CH in my pedigree. How many do you have 
in yours?" 

Jones started to say something, but 
thought better of it. 

Garder une longueur d'avance, 

Luke is a black Labrador retriever who spends his 
spare time hiintingup good stories with his best friend, 
Clarke C. Jones. You can contact Luke and Clarke at 

u •ii'ii ' 

Open the door to a lifetime of 

enjoyment in the great outdoors 

of Virginia with a lifetime freshv^^ater 

fishing, hunting or trout license! 

It's an investment that keeps on giving. 

For more information visit: 

or call I -(866) 72 1 -69 1 I 


Photo Tips 

By Lynda Richardson 

A Really Good Tripod 

A really good tripod will open up your 
photographic world. It allows you to 
shoot longer exposures and sharper images 
than those you could ever hand hold. So, what 
should you look for in a really good tripod? 
Here are a few tips. 

A tripod is comprised of two main parts: 
the legs (which include a center column) and a 
head. Ideally, tripod legs should extend to your 
full height. Some sellers will tell you that a par- 
ticular tripod extends to 70" (or whatever) 
but... buyer beware! What they may be in- 
cluding in that measurement is the extension 
of the center post. Be sure to clarify this before 
buying. A center post will raise your camera 
higher, but what you gain in height you will 
lose in stability. 

The most important feature to check is leg 
stability. If you fully extend the tripod legs, 
what happens when you press down? Could a 
strong wind move it during a long exposure? 
Since creating stability is the fundamental 
point of a tripod, make sure you get legs that 
are rock solid! 

How you shorten and lengthen the legs 
is also something to consider. You have two 
choices: hinged levers or collared locks. 
When in the field, I prefer the collars since 
the clips tend to catch on things or break off. 

Do you want to shoot at ground level? If 
so, make sure the legs can extend out hori- 
zontally. You will need a shorter center col- 
umn for low level shooting, but that can be 
purchased separately. 

Tripod legs are made out of various ma- 
terials such as wood, aluminum alloy, basalt, 
magnesium, or carbon fiber. Strong, light- 
weight materials such as carbon fiber are very 
expensive but if weight is an issue, seriously 
consider high-tech materials. Remember, tri- 
pod legs can last you a lifetime. 

Two tripod head types are available: the 
ball and the pan-tilt head. I find that a ball 

head is best for me. A ball head will smoothly 
follow a subject both horizontally and verti- 
cally and, basically, you only have one knob 
to turn. Pan-tilt heads have numerous adjust- 
ments and levers, making them slow to use. 

Another important feature to consider 
is how the camera or lens attaches to the 
head. I prefer a quick release plate that slides 
back and forth in the grooves of the head. 
Having the ability to slide your plate back 
and forth, as opposed to clamping it into one 
place, allows you much more flexibility. This 
is particularly important if you are using a 
true macro lens where you focus by moving 
the lens back and forth. 

If you want to open up your photo- 
graphic world to a lifetime of longer expo- 
sures and sharper images, consider getting a 
really good tripod. D 

This Kirk BH-3 ball head (left) and a pan-tilt head (right) show the difference between 
the two head types. The ball head is very easy and quick to use. I find the pan-tilt head 
to be cumbersome, with a long lever that always seems to get in the way! 
Photos by © Lynda Richardson. 

FEBRUARY 2011 33 




By Ken and Maria Perrotte 

Super Bowl Party Fare 

No matter which teams are playing in the big game on Super 
Bowl Sunday, the event offers an excuse to eat well. The thing 
about most "big game" table fare is that few chefs want to be cook- 
ing close to kickoff. Here are a few Super Bowl party pleasers that 
can be prepped the day before and then packaged for easy plate as- 
sembly just prior to the coin toss. Heads or tails? Doesn't matter 
when you're munching these super snacks. 

Ken's Apple Smoked Venison Sandwich 

Thinly sliced smoked \'enison roast 
Sliced tomatoes 
Sliced and peeled cucumber 
Sliced red onion 
Sliced cheeses 

Toasted and sliced French or Italian bread 
Sauce (mixture of about /^ mayonnaise and '/i horseradish, 
to your taste) 

Pickles and kettle chips nicelv round out the plate. 

Smoked Fish Sandwich 

Fillets of smoked fish 
Sliced tomatoes 
Sliced and peeled cucumber 
Sliced red onion 
Sliced cheeses 

Toasted and sliced French or ItLilian bread 
Sauce (mixture of about 2 tbsp. mayonnaise; add lemon pepper 
and Old Bay or crab boil seasoning to taste, a dash at a time) 

Smoke the venison and fish slowly with apple wood chips. For the 
meat, use a nice hindquarter round or splurge with a backstrap. For 
the fish, mal<e sure you have at least a fillet that's a half-inch thick or 
a little more. You can smoke the meats and hsh a day ahead of the 
game if desired, but game day morning is best. 

Wlien ready to serve, thinly slice the venison roast across the 
grain. Slice onions and tomatoes. Peel and slice cucumbers. Slice a 

variety of cheeses. Combine mayonnaise (we like Hellman's) and 
horseradish sauce for meat. Mix, lemon pepper, and Old 
Bay for fish. 

Slice and lightly to;ist bread, brtishing it with a light coat of butter 
if you use a toaster oven. Slap sauce, meat, and condiments together. 

Venison BBQ 

Venison roast (about '/i pound per serving) 

Pork Boston Butt or country style ribs-about !/4 to Vb the amount 

Broth or stock to keep moist while cooking 
Salt and pepper 
BBQ sauce (we like KC Masterpiece Original and Sweet Baby Rays) 

Season the meat ver\' lightly with salt and pepper and place in roasting 
pan. Add enough broth to cover bottom of the pan and cover tightly 
with foil. A Dutch oven can be used instead. Ro;ist meat at 325° for 
several hours until it easily breaks apart with a fork. The amount of 
time needed will depend on the cut of meat. Keep it wet! Add broth if 
needed during cooking. 

When done, cool and shred or chop the meat. Add BBQ sauce. 

This can be made a day ahead and stored in your refrigerator in 
zip-lock freezer bags. Warm in microwave before serving. 

Serve with buns, coleslaw, and extra sauce. 

Pork is optional, but many folks like the little extra fat and flavor 
the pork provides. 

Venison Chipode Bean Dip 

1 pound ground venison (we add 8 to 1 0% beef fat for this recipe) 
Vl pack taco seasoning (the pack seasons 1 pound for tacos, but 

we like a more subtle taco flavoring here) 
3 tablespoons water 

2 tablespoons (more or less to taste) chopped chipode peppers 

in adobo sauce 
2 cans (20.5 ounces) refried black beans 
!/2 cup salsa 
Vl cup shredded cheese (we like to combine Monterey Jack, cheddar, 

and mozzarella, but several varieties of already shredded cheese 

combinations are available) 

Brown ground meat in a skillet; add chopped onions and cook until 
soft. If you decide not to add any beef fat, use a tablespoon or two of 
olive oil to prevent sticking and promote browning. Add the season- 
ings and water and peppers, mixing well, and cook for another 
minute. Set the meat aside to cool. 

Combine the beans and salsa in a large mixing bowl and add the 
meat mixture. Spoon into baking dish and top w/ cheese. Bake at 350° 
until hot and cheese has melted. 

Serve with corn chips or vegetables. This will sen'c 8 to 1 people, 
but likely not for long. Better have a second half dish ready to heat up. U 


'■'W "w^ ^^^ ir^ ■^'w A 


Uit i^nlriLiJij 

The Virginia 
Birding and Wildlife 
Trail Guide 

Provides information on the 
nation's first statewide 
wildlife viewing trail all in 
one convenient book. This 
400-pg. color publication 
provides information on 
over 670 sites with updated 
maps, detailed driving di- 
rections, and contact infor- 
mation for each site. 



Canvas Tote Bag 

This attractive bag 
makes a great tote for 
groceries, picnic 
items, or camera and 
field guides. Show 
your support for the 
Virginia Birding and 
WildlifeTrail with this 
reinforced cotton can- 
vas blue and tan bag. 
Measures 14x5x13' 
and includes FREE SHIPPING 
to thank you for your support. 


Price $12.95 

Birder's Journal 

Become a budding naturalist by recording your bird sightings 
and outdoor observations in this handsome leather-bound 
journal. Includes a complete list of Virginia birds at the front; 
measures lO'A x 7". FREE SHIPPING to thank you for sup- 
porting wildlife conservation and the Virginia Birding and 


Price $22.95 

To Order visit the Department's website at: or call (804) 367-2569. 
Please allow 3 to 4 weeks for delivery. 


A dog-gone 
good deal! 

Order Online 

With just the click of a mouse you 
can order 12 months of Virginia 
Wildlife magazine online using 
your VISA or MasterCard, and 
have it delivered to your home 
for just $12.95 a year. That's a 
73% savings off the cover price. 
While you're there, don't forget to 
check out the Virginia Wildlife 
Outdoor Catalog for that unique 
and special gift. 

Magazine subscription-related calls only 1-800-710-9369 • Twelve issues for just $12.95 
All other calls to (804) 367-1 000; (804) 367-1 278 HY 


WILDLIFE PROGRAM Nongame Tax Checkoff Fund 

Celebrate the 28th Anniversary of Virginia's Nongame 
Wildlife Program by helping to support essential research 
and management of Virginia's native birds, fish, and nongame 

If you are due a tax refund from the Commonwealth of Virginia, 
you can contribute to the Virginia Nongame Wildlife Program by 
simply marking the appropriate place on this year's tax checkoff on 
the Virginia State Income Tax form. 

If you would like to make a cash donation directly to the Virginia 
Nongame Wildlife Program using a VISA or IVlasterCard, 
you can visit the Department's website 
or mail a check made out to 
Virginia Nongame Program. 
IVlail to: 

Virginia Nongame Program 
4010 W. Broad St. 
Richmond, VA 23230- 1104